BLACK PEPPER is an important spice crop of India, which is a major producer, consumer and exporter of black pepper in the world. Black pepper is known as Kurumulaku in Malayalam, Karumilagu in Tamil, Kalimirch in Hindi, Kare menasu in Kannada and Miriyale tige in Telugu. Though the crop is traditionally harvested from vines grown on support trees, researchers at the Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Calicut, Kerala have demonstrated the production of green pepper from bushes (bush pepper) grown in pots and in the fields.
The plant starts flowering during the same year of planting. Several varieties such as Karimunda, Panniyur-1, Kuthiravally, Kalluvally, Aimpirian and Kottanadan can be grown by this method, according to Drs. C. K. Thankamani and K. Kandiannan, Senior scientists, Agronomy, IISR.One-year-old healthy laterals (fruit bearing branches), with 2-3 leaves from high yielding vines are used for raising bush pepper. All the leaves except the flag leaf are removed and the lateral is dipped in 0.2 per cent copper oxychloride solution for 20-30 minutes, according to them.
A sharp slanting cut is made at the basal portion and dipped in rooting hormone powder such as Keradix-B and planted in polythene bags containing 500 gms of thoroughly washed moist coir dust. "About four to five laterals can be planted in 30 x 45 cm size polythene bags. The mouth of the bag is tied and it is hung in the shade," said Thankamani.The planted laterals develop rooting systems in about 45 days after which they are replanted in other polythene bags of the same size filled with soil, sand and farmyard manure in equal proportion.
Replanted in pots
After three months, the laterals can be replanted in pots of about 12 inches diameter filled with potting mixture or directly in the field. This type of bush pepper in pots is ideal for terrace and kitchen gardens, according to Dr. K. Kandiannan.Fertilizers such as 2 gms of urea, 3 gms of superphosphate and 4 gms of potash should be applied once in two months to the pot with 10 kg of soil, according to him. Under organic cultivation about 200 grams of farmyard manure should be applied annually in addition to bimonthly application of 30 gms of neem cake or 15 gms of groundnut cake or 1 kg of leaf compost per pot," said Dr. Kandiannan. For growing in the fields about 5 kg of farmyard manure should be applied per plant every year. Chemical fertilizers such as 20 gms of urea, 30 gms of super phosphate and 40 gms of muriate of potash must be applied every three months in a year, according to both the scientists.Bush pepper is susceptible to Phytophthora foot rot and foliar yellowing infestation. Pre and post monsoon spray with 1 per cent bordeaux mixture and drenching with 0.2 per cent copper oxychloride or a spray/drenching with 3 ml potassium phosphonate diluted in one litre of water are found effective in the control of Phytophthora foot rot.Alternatively, application of Trichoderma harzianum at 10gms/pot in the soil and spraying potassium phosphonate at 3 ml/litre on the bush during May/June and August/September is also effective in controlling the disease.For foliar yellowing infestation about 5 gms of phorate may be applied per pot during May/June and August/September.
For controlling attacks from thrips, mealybugs, scales, and leaf feeding caterpillars, a spray with 0.05 per cent monocrotophos or dimethoate is found effective.Bush pepper can be grown as an intercrop in mature coconut gardens at a spacing of 2 x 1.8 m.It can also be grown along with other crops under shade. About 1 kg of pepper (green) can be obtained from third year of planting, according to them.For more information readers can contact Dr. C .K. Thankamani and Mr. K. Kandiannan, Indian Institute of Spices Research, P.O.Marikunnu, Calicut, 673012, phone: 0495 - 2731410